Cornrows are a cool and simple protective hairstyle that can last for days or even weeks. There are numerous ways to style cornrows, and it looks good on both men and women. But do you know the history of this hairstyle? According to author Toni Love, cornrows go back at least 3000 years for women and for men; it goes back to the 19th century throughout parts of Africa. Cornrows became popular in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to an interest in embracing Black pride and natural hairstyles. Here is more information about the history of cornrows.
The appearance of Black women with cornrows in media
Did you know that there were very few images of Black women with cornrows in beauty magazines for at least half a century? There were some Black female celebrities such as Nina Simone, Valerie Simpson, Roberta Flack, and Cicely Tyson who proudly rocked their cornrows in the '60s and '70s. Still, their presence in media was limited to mostly Black publications. In 1979, white actress Bo Derek appeared in the movie 10 wearing cornrows, and this cultural appropriation soon led to the rise in other non-minority women who started wearing this style.
Cornrows in the 16th and 17th century
In colonial America, enslaved Africans also wore cornrows. The name cornrows came from how the braids looked neatly lined up, just like the rows of crops in the fields. In the Caribbean, this style was sometimes called canerows. The enslaved also wore cornrows as a simple way to wear their hair during the week. It was often styled on Sunday, which was the only off day they had. Enslaved Africans would also use cornrows as a communication code when they wanted to escape. The number of cornrows on a person's head would let someone know certain meeting times or escape routes.
Tips on styling cornrows
One of the best tools to use for styling cornrows is a skinny rat-tail comb. This helps you achieve the neatness to make this style look fabulous. Remember to add hair only to the middle section rather than the left and right sections of your cornrows. It's also important for your hair to be moisturized before braiding.